Published: 14th November 2014
A charity set up to help revive ailing small town high streets across Britain has ceased trading after hitting cashflow problems.
Action for Market Towns, known as Towns Alive, has appointed Neil Vinnicombe, of business insolvency specialist Begbies Traynor, as liquidator.
The organisation mainly worked with town councils and local authorities, with the aim of helping smaller towns to compete in the face of changing consumer patterns and competition from out-of-town retail centres.
Incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in 1997, the Bury St Edmunds-based charity was forced to close after its Big Lottery funding came to an end. As a result, all of its six employees have been made redundant.
Mr Vinnicombe said: “It is very sad that a company aimed at keeping market towns alive and serving their communities has had to close. Unfortunately the Lottery funding on which the business relied has come to end, causing an insurmountable cashflow problem. The board of directors and senior management had been working hard to find a proposal to allow the company to go forward but sadly time ran out.
“However, there is recognition of this organisation’s vital work. Therefore discussions are ongoing with senior management in the hope that a successor business will emerge, so that it can continue assisting communities to become commercially resilient in the face of national and global economic forces.”
Towns Alive was established to create active engagement between local authorities, businesses and residents. It had built up a membership of over 300 when it closed.
In recent years, the charity has set up citizens’ panels, surveyed residents and assisted with funding applications for town improvement projects. The organisation has “helped towns across the UK to find innovative ways to encourage footfall – from festivals to local loyalty cards.”
Neil joined Begbies Traynor in 2003. He successfully sat the JIEB exams in 2005 and is a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner. He has 29 years' insolvency experience having previously worked at KPMG, Ernst & Young and Grant Thorton in Bristol.
He has a broad range of experience in Corporate Recovery and Rescue and works from the Bristol and Bath offices.